Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Student Engagement

There has been much written about student engagement or the lack there of.  And as I sit in my empty classroom on a Professional Day I think about it.  First of all, as has been noted many times this year I have a very enthusiastic class.  Now they are not always the best listeners but when they engage they engage. 
 In my last couple of years we have done lots of project work and one thing I realized is that they didn't even really regard project work as work.  They would spend hours making models for example. 

Yesterday when I told my Grade Sevens we were going to next study Ancient China they were excited.  I had felt behind in science and had been focusing on that for a bit so had taken a rest from Social Studies for a couple of weeks.   We read together the first few pages in the text and I was very aware that China has changed rapidly in the ten years since the text was written.  I told them they could do mini-projects on the different dynasties and they were off.  I had gathered several good websites on China in preparation for their big projects  so they were able to explore those sites.  Having the ipads in the classroom meant that research could begin immediately.  I sometimes become impatient with moodle but it's an excellent way to post assignments and links.  No one can say they lost the assignment either!  I am also able to easily access projects from other years and update them.  I also put up videos and links that I think they will find interesting.  I am following the Smithsonian now on Twitter and posted their top ten mysteries of the universe for instance. 

This morning I was putting together a project for the Grade Six students on extreme environments and I even found a webquest on this.  Wow, a ready made project all set to go!  It was helpful with great links but I always tend to want to step it up so I am letting them convince us of what a great extreme adventure it would be.  I shared with them the website of the company that is helping my friends and I organize our trip on the Camino in Spain.  I am looking forward to what my students will produce.  They did great projects with our teacher-librarian on Poverty and I will share a few of their posters. 

No worries, we have what are probably boring math classes and they read real books every day.  We all need quiet times and we even need to learn to be bored gracefully!  One of my goals of late is to only have to say things once! 

Monday we went over to Moberly Arts Centre for our seventh session with Naomi on story telling.  I don't think initially I knew what I was getting us into but I am certainly glad I was the teacher who happened to be in the office at the right time.  Monday they got to meet and listen to a performance poet, Zac Jackson, I hope he doesn't mind if I share some advice he gave them.


They worked on their story and had their first audience, another story teller, Mike, who is a friend of Natalie who has helped us with movement.   They were thrilled he loved the story and understood it and appreciated that he told them the part that did confuse him. 

I love reading what my students write about their sessions.  This all means so much to them.  They are now creating a picture book of the story.  They each have written down their lines (subject to change of course) and are illustrating them.  At the session they basically "wrote" their lines and made a statue of it.  Prior to the session I think I mentioned that we had written and performed dialogues withe the characters.  Two groups presented their dialogues to Naomi and Natalie Monday as well.  Ah... involvement, engagement...

As promised from a couple of blogs ago-here is a sample of their trifolds that they did about the Reel to Real Festival.

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